The spiritual heart of Bali, Ubud is a marriage of traditional culture and up-to-the-minute movements, verdant rice terraces and sustainable living.

The spiritual heart of Bali, Ubud is a marriage of traditional culture and up-to-the-minute movements, verdant rice terraces and sustainable living. Though Julia Roberts may have made it her spiritual stop on the Eat, Pray, Love trail, it has grown from a sleepy village into a cosmopolitan community packed with creative culinary offerings, even playing host to the Ubud Food Festival, which enters its fifth year on Apr 26-28, 2019. We’ve compiled the must-hit spots to explore in Bali’s foodie paradise.

 

Kubu


Taking on an open-plan riverside space within Ritz-Carlton Reserve’s Mandapa resort, this rustic-glam restaurant serves Mediterranean-European flavors from its giant bamboo hut, where dangling woven lamp fixtures contrast with stylish polished granite and sleek furniture. For an exclusive vibe, head to the private huts set right on the bank of the river to enjoy a six- (IDR850,000) or eight-course degustation menu (IDR1.2 million), featuring the likes of Boston lobster ravioli and wagyu beef short ribs.
Jalan Kedewatan, Banjar Kedewatan, Ubud, +62-361-479-2777. bit.ly/2K9mx8G

 


Swept Away


This laid-back riverside restaurant offers views over the lush rice paddies from its equally tropical bamboo, rock and faux grass perch. Moving from light salads and sandwiches for lunch, the late afternoon sees Asian tapas bites come to the fore, while big creative plates, tasting menus and a full booze selection are reserved for the evening. There’s a patio jutting over the Ayung River, where tables are surrounded by countless candles, creating the perfect spot for a romantic dinner (IDR3.4 million per couple for six courses).
Banjar Baung, Desa Sayan, Ubud, +62-361-973-606. bit.ly/2PHl3tV

 


Padi Fine Dining


Taking a refined approach to pescatarian eating (plant-based with the exception of fish and seafood), Indonesian chef-owner Mandif Warokka creates exciting Asian-inspired flavors in his five-, seven- or nine-course degustation menu (from  IDR850,000/1.6 million with beverage pairing), featuring dishes like caramelized cauliflower risotto and caviar a legumes. The spacious dining hall is imbued with a golden hue, set around a stylish open kitchen. Only open for dinner with just 30 seats, advance bookings are recommended.
Jalan Suweta, Bentuyung Sakti, Ubud, +62-361-209-1788. lumbungpadiubud.com/padi

 


Blanco Par Mandif


From the owner of Padi Fine Dining comes this elegant fine-dining spot, where local ingredients meet familiar flavors in dishes like the Tokusen wagyu with green chili sambal and cilembu sweet potatoes. Here, the food comes in seven (IDR1.2 million/IDR2.5 million with wine) or nine “tasting style” courses (IDR1.4 million/IDR2.8 million), with optional wine pairings for every dish. With an even more exclusive 20 seats, bookings are a must.
Kompleks Museum Blanco, Jl. Raya Tjampuhan, Ubud, +62-361-479-2284. www.blancoparmandif.com

 


Locavore


This innovative Asian-European fusion restaurant focuses on seasonal local ingredients. Set in a small house, the chefs personally bring the dishes from the open kitchen to your table. Go for the full degustation menu in five (IDR775,000/1.3 million with drink pairings) or seven courses (IDR875,000/1.4 million), featuring the likes of coffee-cured hamachi fish and heritage galuh rice with snails and garlic—a vegetarian menu is also available (IDR675,000/ 775,000). Drink pairings are equally innovative (no wine here), with creative cocktails showcasing sesame and chili-infused vodka and homemade vermouth.
10 Jalan Dewi Sita, Ubud, +62-361-977-733. www.locavore.co.id

 

Room4Dessert


Live your childhood fantasy at this fine-dining dessert restaurant. Led by pastry chef Will Goldfarb, the nine-course tasting menu (IDR580,000 for two) is highly creative yet undeniably comforting. Tooth-achingly sweet creations like The Sugar Refinery—with coconut nectar chantilly, chocolate Toblerone, soursop and Balinese meringue—sit beside inventive sweet-savory flavors like the New Wave, with carrot, pumpkin seed, anise and marigold. There’s also a creative cocktail menu featuring the likes of Blazing Saddles, with fermented turmeric, charred carrot, tequila and Nigari. The restaurant sits right next door to local-favorite Naughty Nuri’s, so you can grab some ribs before dessert.
Jl. Raya Sanggingan, Kedewatan, Ubud, +62-813-3705-0539. www.room4dessert.asia

 


Essentials


Getting there


Flights with Lion Air are approximately B5,125 round-trip to Ngurah Rai International Airport (Denpasar).


Where to stay


The Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan (www.fourseasons.com/sayan) is tucked in amid greenery and rice paddies just outside of Ubud, and offers an alluring blend of Balinese architecture and modern design. Room rates start at B12,900/night. Situated on a hillside overlooking the Ayung River Valley is the Royal Pita Maha (www.royalpitamaha-bali.com), which has luxury villas from B15,000/night. On the more affordable end, check out Airbnb for rooms starting at just B800.


Exchange rate


1 baht = 430 Indonesian rupiah (approx.)


Local favorites

 

Five Must-Tries in Bali

 

credit: dbgg1979
 

Babi Guling


Spit-roasted pig with crispy skin and tender meat. 

 

credit: WeI-chieh Chiu

 

Nasi Campur


This mixed rice plate comes topped with an array of small portions of meats, vegetables, peanuts, eggs, and fried-shrimp krupuk (deep-fried crackers). 

credit: jultchik7

 

Bebek Betutu


Steamed or roasted duck in rich bumbu betutu (Balinese spice mix), cooked in plantain leaf. 

 

Nasi/Mie Goreng


A carb-heavy classic fried rice dish spiced with kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), shallot, garlic, ground shrimp paste, tamarind and chili, often topped off with chicken or prawns and a fried egg.

 

 

Sambal Matah


You’ll want to slather this spicy condiment on everything. It’s simply  made from raw shallots, lemongrass, shrimp paste, garlic, chili and lime.